I was recently contacted by a consumer who asked that we expose a large fake review network which was discovered in a data breach in China. This article Is located here
It is no surprised that the fake review scheme was based in China, as over 50% of the largest 3rd party seller stores on amazon are not only based in China but they tend to use very unscrupulous tactics for doing business. Amazon has also created the perfect, barely regulated system. The Chinese have discovered all of cheat codes to Amazon, and they are taking at advantage of the loopholes and policies which amazon very loosely enforced.
● Customer sees product with thousands of 5-star reviews, glowing reviews, so they purchase based on merit and other customer satisfaction.
● Immediately following delivery of said item, customer receives an email from the seller offering them an amazon gift card or cash (many times the full item value or large percent of purchase) if they leave a 5-star review.
● Customer is directed to either a Many-chat system, Facebook, messenger, or alternate email address which would be communication with the customer OFF of amazon messenger or email address affiliated with seller account.
● Customer leaves glowing 5-star review and provides proof to the seller’s alternate communication method (email, Facebook, etc)
● Seller then sends money via PayPal or gift card to the customer email address
● The saga continues with the next customer who was 100% duped on the purchase.
The scheme continues in perpetuity for a few reasons, some are sadder than others. For one consumers are complicit and they take the money even if the product is crap. They walk away with a free piece of crap, worst case scenario. No hard no foul. Even if the product kind of works, you still got it for 75% off worst case scenario. As a result of the obscene number of 5-star reviews, the sales momentum on the ASIN(s) has increased, thereby making the platform think the product is more relevant. The system rewards said ASIN(s) for sales increase and relevance, by making it even more visible to other non-suspecting customers that are now new flies caught in the web of lies. The final reason is potentially the most disturbing reason why this continues.
If you attempt to leave a review and mention the fact that you were contacted by the seller in some sort of quid-pro-quo nefarious review Ponzi scheme the bots will filter your review and you will receive an email that says “we are sorry, but your review does not meet our policies for a product review.” Essentially, you cannot warn other unsuspecting future customers that the entire product success is bogus because the system algorithms for review monitoring will filter you out.
Alternatively, if you go to customer service with the issue, they also will tell you that they will “investigate” the issue but due to privacy reasons they cannot share the results with you. In other words, your concern dies on the vine. They don’t care, and they do nothing, and the seller continues the scheme until it is exposed in some massive data breech like we see here recently.
“Hello from Amazon Selling Partner Support,
For privacy reasons, I can only discuss specific Customer Review removals with the person who originally posted the review. However, I can tell you that reviews are typically removed from the Amazon.com website for one of four reasons:
● The review conflicted with our guidelines (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730&referral=A1IJ0DMAJX79MI_A39DBFJV2S4M6A). This includes reviews which were posted as promotional content.
● The review was removed by the customer who submitted the review.
● We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site.
● We detected unusual review behavior and are not accepting/displaying reviews and ratings for the item at this time or are only accepting Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. For more information, follow the link: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G201972140?referral=A1IJ0DMAJX79MI_A39DBFJV2S4M6A.
To help us continually improve, we ask that you take a moment to complete our survey below to tell us about your experience with this specific interaction.
Were you satisfied with the support provided”
Amazon knows that there is a problem, but they are in a precarious situation because of how rampant the problem actually is. The truth is a large percentage of 3rd party sellers participate in review manipulation in some shape or form. Amazon benefits from the sales of said asins, in their goals towards retail domination so slowing the review aggregation on site, is bad for business. If they curbed all fake reviews on amazon, what do you think it would do to the total number of existing reviews on site and the total rate at which they collect new reviews on popular ASINS? It would be detrimental to them as a company, so they cannot admit the problem exists. This Is why you see their senior management DENY DENY DENY and side step all of those questions in every interview. Its bad for business.
The more reviews a product has the more you should suspect its authenticity. All consumers need to be aware of https://www.fakespot.com/
FAKESPOT has developed a browser plugin that grades every product on Amazon and automatically analyzes reviews on a product to determine if redundant language is used over and over in the reviews, which eludes that many of the reviews are not authentic.
Another decent software for checking validity of authentic reviews on an ASIN is by ReviewMeta